On Our Way Home———————-
The seas are calm and the day sunny and warm, the breeze SE fills our sails nicely and the current is pushing us to the mainland. We are expecting the wind to change to an Easterly then eventually NE to NW before the Southerly hits. If we’ve timed it right (and are a bit lucky) we should get into Sydney Harbour just before the front does by pretty much sticking to the rhumb line. We even have a chance to fly the spinnaker!
Evening arrives and the weather is lovely, we’ve tried to do shifts to be well rested for the upcoming weather but its hard when it’s so nice and we all slept well the night before. Still we take some personal time outs.
Evan gets in communication with Frank on Bundeena and found out they didn’t go up to the reef and instead are making a beeline to Port Stephens. (we wagered correctly!!)
We had a good night sailing, uneventful but satisfying as we are making good progress with wind and currents helping us along.
Friday the 12th – Heading Home
The wind is starting to swing more to the east south east. Bundeena is still on her way to Port Stephens and Arawai is due to leave Lord Howe Island by 1pm if all goes well.
We are sailing along nicely, I’m secretly hoping the southerly does not come too soon.
Its lunchtime and the winds are now coming from the east north east. The boys have decided this might be our last chance to catch a fish before we get home so out go the fishing lines.
We run out 2 lines, one from a good 40 meters or so of VB cord attached to Nashira by Ocky strap so we can see if a fish bites. Another line is dropped in from the hand coil. Fingers crossed we get lucky as this might be our last chance to fish on the way home. We really need Bruce’s instruction on what to do after we land a fish!
The winds start to pick up and shift a bit more north. Evan decides to pull the fishing lines in and notices something is on the VB cord!! I was downstairs lying down when the wind increased and thought Evan might need some help. I came up on deck and Evan exclaimed excitedly that something is on the line! Not knowing if it was just the lure running through the water as we speed up or a bird or a fish Evan keeps pulling it in and lo and behold its a fish!!
We yell for Bruce to come help and Evan pulls it up on deck. Its a Bonito and it starts flapping wildly. It throws the lure out of its mouth and is vibrating at a hyper speed trying to get away. Evan is trying his best to hold onto it as it flaps about.
Bruce runs upstairs with gloves and is able to grab the fish, He quickly dispatches it with a knife through the top of the head down between the eyes and bleeds the fish by slitting behind its gills. Evan is busy hosing down the deck to get rid of any blood and then madly getting the fish cleaning table stuck into the tube on the transom frame which Bruce uses to gut the fish.
I grabbed a couple of large ziplock bags to put the Bonito in and then promptly place it into the refrigerator. Thankfully the Bonito is smallish, weighing about 2kg and about 40cms (fat little guy)
Its dark now, Bruce will show us how to fillet the fish the next day or so.
We caught a FISH!!!! WOOHOO this is our FIRST ONE EVER!!!
Such a happy feeling of accomplishment, so many thoughts are going through my mind, of survival, feeling sad for the fish, grateful for learning how to kill one quickly and vowing to make full use of it, not wasting any and thankful for the opportunity.
All fully awake we take the time to reef the mainsail bit and settle in for the nights shifts. The wind is picking up and turning northerly, we are starting to really hoot through the water now.
By midnight the winds are NE at 18 knots seas choppy, rough. by 0330 the winds are Northerly 20 to 30 knots and the seas rough.
Saturday & Sunday 13th & 14th
Last night saw increasing winds and the seas are a bit higher, still flying through the water with the currents pushing us along. But we are finally getting a taste of what is coming.
The morning radio sked found Bundeena safely anchored in Shoal Bay in Port Stephens. Frank has been battling the flu and hopefully will now get a chance to recover. Arawai got away from LHI by 1pm-ish on Friday and are running about 20 hours behind us. I’m a bit worried how they are going to cope if they run into the Southerly front that will hit NSW Sunday morning.
The morning has been rough, we’ve had weather hit us as the wind is full on North to North West.
Bill Shead mentioned that the strength of the North, North West wind will give us an idea of how strong the upcoming Southerly is going to be. Now the wind is 30 to 38 knots and the seas rough.
Evan downloaded the latest weather files and if we are lucky the winds should die down later today and give us a chance to rest before the Southerly.
Sure enough the winds have eased as the day progresses, by 1600 they shift West South West then South and then to South East. We have a lovely 20 something knots now pushing us toward Sydney.
Now that things have calmed down we settle into our routine, 3 hour shifts see us well into the wee hours of the morning.
That’s when things start to get exciting. Bruce has been on the helm for the 0200 to 0500 shift. I’m sleeping in the cockpit close at hand if needed and Evan is on the bench below near the dining room table.
I’m awoken with Bruce saying “Wake Up! – I think we need to reef the sails” I got up and had a look, not remembering what state they were in when I went to sleep. A bit groggy I listen as Bruce says the winds are increasing quickly and weather is approaching at a seriously fast rate.
By the time he has said this the winds have increased from 20 knots rising very quickly to 45 knots! Holy cow “Evan wake up, we need you” I yell. He comes bounding up the stairs and the three of us jump into action. What a way to wake up!
Nose to the wind we take stock, turning on the engine, reefing the headsail a bit more, happy with the main for the moment and then gingerly point back down. It is wild, the waves are increasing rapidly. It is black outside except for the faint light areas between clouds. Its like riding a bucking bronco.
We throw all the phones and iPads into the oven hoping it really does work as a makeshift Faraday cage if necessary as we see lightening not terribly far from us.
Another squall hits and we are engulfed in a lightening flash all around us. It is so bright it is blinding. We think of ‘Simply Irresistible’ a boat belonging to our friends Glynne and Gill that was hit by lightening. Evan says “what ever happens do not turn the engine off”
Its getting lighter outside as the sun comes up. We can see storm cell after storm cell developing and try to negotiate around rather than through if we can. The winds reach up to 48 knots on our instruments. We reefed the mainsail in more. Bless our Leisure Furl main.
We are only 40nm’s from Sydney and it has become clear that it will take hours and hours to fight the wind and waves to get there. Evan suggests we point to Pittwater and let the front help push us there.
The next six hours we are all on alert riding this front. Bruce managed to get the dreampot into the cockpit which held warm chicken curry from the night before and with cups we managed to scoop out food and eat something to keep us going.
We were fortunate as the morning progressed there was sunshine and blue sky between storm cells and visibility was very good. We could see Sydney and by the time we got to Pittwater we could clearly see Barrenjoey lighthouse. We rounded the lighthouse, headed for the Basin and picked up a mooring near the jetty in a very protected place.
We all felt stunned and buzzed when we stopped yet how glorious to finally stop and be safe. I am more confident in Nashira and happy how we worked as a team and handled this. Evan as always you are my rock and I appreciate you so much. Your sailing skill and knowledge seems so natural whereas for me I am still too analytical and mechanical.
We spent the rest of the day cleaning Nashira, pulling everything out to dry that got wet and drying below the floorboards. We still have some leaks at deck level that we have yet to find and plug up. Overall she is in great shape and now she feels clean and dry again. We went ashore to feel the solid ground and get rid of our rubbish.
We had a visitor in the rubbish bin. A bit of a surprise
Evan contacted Arawai tonight and she and her crew are battling bad weather. They have decided to head directly to Port Stephens. We organised with Frank to keep a look out for them and Frank noted there was a free public mooring just west of Bundeena. He would keep his deck lights on and guide them by torch to the mooring.
The rough time we had took 6 hours, Arawai will be doing this for over 20 hours!!
We contacted Nicole who is in constant contact with her husband Adam, she is worried but hopes this won’t put the crew off sailing. Just gorgeous.
We are all concerned for their safety but have confidence that Arawai and all of the crew will be alright. They are a team of wonderful, enthusiastic, hard workers. As this was their first big adventure we were thinking this would either make them stronger or put them off sailing altogether, we hope for the former.
We all went to bed anxious, Evan woke up about 3am to emails saying they had made it safely into Shoal bay by 1:44am. They are now next to Bundeena and Frank helped them successfully get onto the mooring. PHEW!!!!!
We are SO PROUD of you Arawai crew!! Well Done!
And thank you Frank for your late night assistance in guiding them in.
Now to sleep for all of us.
PITTWATER 15th to 17th of January
I’m going to keep this part short. We spent two nights at the Basin (Coaster retreat) and headed to Americas/Refuge Bay where we slept the 3rd night.
We have been reading, writing this Blog and paddle boarding around. The wind is still quite relentless as soon as we nose out of a protected area. Yet the sun is shining and we are enjoying the down time. We had heard that for comfortable cruising for every days sailed you should have a day off. So after our 3 day return from Lord Howe Island we had 3 peaceful days in Pittwater.
Bruce went for a hike up the waterfall at Americas Bay and we enjoyed watching him get back down. When Evan and I did it last time we got lost coming down.…. not sure why the path is so hard to find on the way down.
Tomorrow Thursday the 18th we are planning on sailing back down to Sydney. The winds should drop although the seas are still quite big. To be honest I’m glad we are only a few hours sail from Sydney.
Thursday 18th – Pittwater to Sydney
The winds dropped overnight and it is very calm. This morning is a beautiful sunny day. We decided to motor over to Palm Beach and do some exploring before Les shows up. He is catching the bus to Palm Beach to join us on the sail back to Sydney.
We dinghy ashore and found a restaurant called the ‘Boat House’ for breakfast on the seaplane wharf. Great food, healthy paleo type breakfasts. I recommend it.
Les isn’t arriving until 12.30 ish so we went for a hike, saw where Home and Away is filmed and enjoyed watching surfers catching big waves on the ocean side.
The sail home was magic, magnificent, perfect sailing. gentle swell with 10 to 15 knot NE. The trip home took no time at all.
We arrived at MHYC just as the Thursday twilight races were starting. We enjoyed watching the race and catching up with everyone after the race. The next day we got confirmation that Arawai was safely back home. This morning we got confirmation that Bundeena was safely back on her mooring in Jervis Bay. Everyones Happy, Everyones Well.
What an adventure!! Looking forward to the next one?!!